The History of Halloween

In light of the spooky season coming to a close, I thought I’d write a little piece about the history of Halloween.

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic times, during which they celebrated a festival named “Samhain”. 2,000 years ago was around the time that the Celts lived and they resided mostly in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and Northern France. Their “New Year” was celebrated on October 1st.

This day was symbolic of the ending of summer and the harvest and the start of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with death. The Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31st, the Samhain was celebrated, and this is when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead had returned to earth.

As well as causing trouble and destructing crops, the Celts believed that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, (Celtic priests), to make predictions about the future. The Celts were incredibly reliant on the natural world, so, these prophecies were a crucial source of comfort during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate this event, Druids built grandeous sacred bonfires, in which the people gathered to burn crops and sacrifice animals to the Celtic deities. During this celebration, the Celts wore costumes, usually consisting of animal skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.

At the end of the celebration, they, once again, lit their hearth fires, which had been extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

Halloween, as we know it now, is an abbreviation of “All Hallows’ Eve” a holiday observed on October 31, the evening before All Saints (or All Hallows’) Day. The celebration, today, marks the day before the Western Christian feast of All Saints and initiates the season of Allhallowtide, which lasts three days and ends with All Soul’s Day. In much of Europe and most of America observance of Halloween is largely non-religious, and simply a holiday to dress up as traditionally “scary” characters, like these:

So there you have it ! A history of Halloween ! If you’re looking for something particularly spooky to read this Halloween, why not check out Ricky Dale’s “I Knew The Bride When She Used To Rock N Roll!” – The true story of paranormal experiences that occurred in Ricky’s old home !

Do you celebrate Halloween? If so; what did you do this year! We’d love to hear it!

Comment below !

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Ricky: An Autobiography

Ricky Dale was born in England and raised in West Africa and referred to the family as being “Colonial” nationality.

Ricky’s singing career began in 1959 with one nighters, college dates and the occasional radio show. As fame increased, he travelled across North America and moved between the UK and Canada charming capacity audiences in clubs and theatres. An individual style and heartfelt rendering of ballads, and the contrast of his wild Rock n Roll were, he says “inspired from the hop and energy of West Africa.

Ricky Dale, featured in the Burlington Gazette
An extract from the article

As the 60s developed, Ricky began to shun the glare of celebrity. Studios, clubs and sages pulsed with drugs and a tragic mass entertainment of messed up, so called music was becoming mainstream. After a long absence from the stage, he completed contractual obligations in Niagara, Canada and Southampton, England.

In 2000, Ricky, with his daughter Kim visited Canada. “It was a kind of odyssey to the past” he says. Their poignant journey encompassed in the Brant Inn location in Burlington, Ontario. Decades before, as an enterprising teenage from England, he stepped into the limelight of this fabulous nightclub and truly perfected his craft. In that golden era, a host of glamorous stars entertained the Brant’s sophisticated audiences. Ricky had fronted the Guy Lombardo Band, duetted with the sheer genius, Danny Kaye, and been “mothered” by beautiful Jayne Mansfield. “When the old timers were mean to me, she provided sympathetic company where I could escape at will and complain. The Brant Inn was tragically torn down in around 1970, but as Kim and I stood on the shore of Lake Ontario (near Maple Avenue), we could easily imagine the melodies that had floated out across the lake; sometimes reality is not permitted to be an intruder!

Special guests, Danny Kaye and Paul Reid

Sometimes Ricky would come to the UK for a few weeks if his  agent had any work lined up for him. On such an occasion was in 1962, when he was booked to appear at the Princess Theatre in Torquay. Helen Shapiro was the main attraction but Ricky also got some time on the stage. Most of his work was in and around Ontario – Toronto, Hamilton, Burlington and Niagara Falls, and he also participated in a show similar to the “X factor talent show” on Channel 11 TV. The Brant Inn used to broadcast nightly across the Province. Ricky expressed that his mother was incredibly thrilled when she heard him singing on her radio one evening.

Before Peter ,Paul and Mary were big stars Ricky and the group used to gig at the Downstairs Club  in Hamilton !

Venues also included weddings and  bar  mitzvahsm.

Inside the Princess Theatre

In July 2001, Ricky and his daughter Kim visited Smithville; Ontario which was where the Limberlost Restaurant was situated back in the 1960’s. This is the restaurant features in Ricky’s “Limberlost” Series

Ricky in Smithville Railway Station

The building in the background is Smithville railway station. Ricky had a professional photographer/editor change the name on the sign to “Anville ” which is the fictional name in his novel 

Around this time, Ricky owned a 1957 previously, police car. Most people of his age at the time were driving around in similar style cars, now considered vintage. For Ricky, it was important to have a car because unlike the UK, public transport was poor at that time and oftentimes Ricky wouldn’t finish his act until after midnight when the club closed.

Ricky pictured, with his car

Ricky went on to write a number of brilliant novels including his five star critic – rated “Limberlost” series, “The House on Dundas and Vine”, “Cloud Burst” and “I Knew the Bride when she used to Rock n Roll!”. Each with its own different genre. Ricky Dale describes these books as “stories within stories” or “non-fiction fiction”, which provide a sense of authenticity and realism. These books incorporate elements of Ricky’s inspiring and wonderful experiences throughout his life, almost reflected what life really is – It’s what you make it !

If you’re searching for a new read, Ricky’s novels are available under these titles: (with a brief overview)

Cloudburst by Ricky Dale – A uniquely personal insight into the fact-based account of Dahlia Carriera and Sandra Comanescu

Limberlost – A young girls journey to finding herself and her path in Ontario, Canada

The House on Dundas and Vine – A heartwarming story based on true events in Ricky’s life, involving a strong sense of friendship and romance

I Knew the Bride When She Used to Rock n Roll – A ghost story, based on true events https

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For this week’s blog, I thought I’d introduce you all to one of Ricky’s best books: Limberlost.

Blurb: The scene is set in Southern Ontario during the emergence of the 1960’s. In the format of purposely brief chapters, the theme unfolds a narrative of events which search and expose the tangled emotional alterations of a virtuoso who desperately yearns to bring her austere demons to rest. The result is and explicit non-cliché colour portrait of devouring pathos and perverse humour; which correlate and blend a relationship of semi-autobiographical sequences with semi-fiction. From the onset, the twists and turns of her life will promise the effect of a compelling and curious realism of empathy; they will captivate, enthral and follow the heart of even the most casual reader.

The story opens with a lonely girl, checking into the restaurant: Limberlost, on a snowy night in Canada. Slowly, as we progress through the story, she grows in strength and confidence and we are introduced to quirky and vibrant characters such as Sandra, who joins our protagonist in visiting the old family house, filled with memories of the past.

What makes this book the most authentic, is that it is based on a true story, as is the case with all of Ricky’s work, and in this way, the story is more special, heart-felt and relatable with real human emotions and through the journeys of each character.

The Limberlost is a real restaurant in Canada which is featured on the front of the book, surrounded by a nature reserve.

Our protagonist finds a sense of warmth and homeliness in this place and when reading, this warmth and sense of family, and homeliness resonates within the reader. Everyone has that one special place, that isn’t their literal home, but feels cosy, like a second home, whether it be a restaurant, café or lodge.

Here are some reviews of Ricky’s “Limberlost”

Sensitive, emotional and profound – Ricky Dale enjoys an easy and fluid writing style and a sure ear for the rhythms of contemporary speech; dialogue, in particular internal, is well crafted”

Athena Press, London, England – Affiliated in the USA

“Compelling, beautifully, sentimental and sensitively written – almost spiritual”

Rosemary Merrell, Devonshire, England – Retired

A quote on the blurb of this book that I think that we can all really feel deep within us is this:

“Who. After all. Kmows who we really are of where we are going? We are all, in a way, carried onwards by a greyhound bus”

In this day and age, with so much immense pressure to make something other of ourselves and achieve such extreme goals and function under all the pressure, this quote gives some sort of reassurance that, no one really knows who they are or where they are going, and that is the most beautiful part of life.

Ricky began to write Limberlost in 2006, described it as a “stopgap measure” whilst his daughter was attending college/university, assuming that the finalised novel might make an interesting read for family and friends – and conceivably a mixed assortment of booksellers/readers.

Limberlost was initially going to be a “one off” book, until residents of the UK and Canada were eager to find out more about the story and whatever happened to Kystyna (Kim)

The great thing about this series is that it doesn’t necessarily have an order. The books may be labeled “prequel” or “1, 2, and 3”, but they really can be read in any order as the main character, Kystyna and her family are “abundantly unsystematic”.

The book is dedicated to Ricky’s daughter Kim, or (Dr Kim Jayne) and inside the book is a picture of the bank of Winter Creek in which Ricky and his daughter walked along in 2001.

Overall, the story is such a beautiful one, with so many wonderful characters from all walks of life, with high spirits and colourful personalities, each based off of someone who or was truly present in Ricky’s life. So much time and effort and love has been put into writing these books and these books are so unique in the sense that they offer that sort of realism and authenticity that makes us ponder about our own lives and living them to the fullest. If you love family orientated books, kinship, love, romance, drama and a strong female lead, this book is the one for you.

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Thank you for taking the time to read this and I sincerely hope you enjoyed it and it has helped you to find an interesting new read to add to your list !

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5 ways to cure writer’s block

Writers block. The annoying thing that word artists get stuck on, seemingly out of the blue, when halfway through a piece of creative writing. The symptoms can appear differently for different writers, but they may include: the inability to focus, feeling mentally foggy, a lack of inspiration, and feeling stressed and frustrated. The good news is that writer’s block is a temporary condition, and eventually, you will get back into creative writing mode, in which thoughts drift consistently from your mind onto paper.

So what exactly is writers block? The Psychology says there are many reasons in which writers block could occur: Fear (fear of getting it wrong), wanting to create a masterpiece (and the pressure of that), loosing enthusiasm, anxiety and even sleep schedule.

But never fear! I have several tips on how to cure writers block once it sets in :

1. Change your workspace.

What is the environment like in which your write? Perhaps you like to write at a desk in the comfort of your own home, perhaps you like to venture out to a nice quiet park and write in nature, or perhaps you have a trust typewriter and your own little office area ! No matter your environment, make it a place you want to be. Tidy up or try putting out fresh flowers or a bring with you picture of what inspires you. Bear in mind the time of day you are most productive. If you are not a morning person, don’t try to write in the morning. If you’re constantly restless, try writing while standing up. Always make time to work when you’re feeling the most motivated, for the best results!

2. Use writing prompts

When you’re feeling like you just don’t know how to start your next chapter, or even the next sentence, in your creative writing piece. There are many apps that can be downloaded which provide new prompts at the same time each day, to help inspire new thoughts. Phrases such as “think of someone in the periphery of your childhood memories, ( a classmate, a teacher, a neighbour ) and cast them as the main character of your story. This prompt would be particularly when starting out from scratch but there are many in which you can choose from, no matter which point in your writing that you have reached !

3. Read

As plain as simple as it sounds, reading is an easy thing to do that can be so inspiring and thought provoking. After all, it is often that the work of previous authors inspires new authors to begin their writing journey in the first place ! Even 10 minutes of reading, any book that you think you may enjoy, or delve into, will put you in the right mindset to right your own words ! Perhaps the work of famous authors such as J.K.Rowling or even Charles Dickens.

4. Try the Pomodoro Technique

Francesco Cirillo, developer of the Pomodoro Technique, says people are most productive in 25-minute blocks. This can also be said for things such as revision, and learning. Set a timer on your phone or download an app. Then remove all possible distractions ( no email, no getting up to get more coffee, etc ). Sit tight, focus and power through that time period. After 25 minutes, take a much-deserved break. Relax, unwind from all that thinking and do something completely unrelated for 5-10 minutes. Grab a cup of coffee, go for a short walk around the block, call a friend, watch some short clips on YouTube, and then repeat the process !

5. Wait it out

Sometimes, the best thing to do, is the most simple thing to do. Wait. Sometimes we have such a tendency to cram everything we think we need to do, and try and get it all done in the space of a matter of days or weeks. Realistically, there is only sp much the brain can take in before it tires out. Its okay to take a well deserved, slightly longer break. Even taking a day or a week out for writing can be a great way to “reset” and return with new found motivation. Everyone deserves a holiday !

Writer’s block can be caused by too much stress, lack of rest or fresh ideas, and even putting too many emotions into what you write. Either way, this can be a distressing moment for any writer and can lead to lack of interest. So take a break, relax, put your feet up. It will help in the long run!

I hope that this blog has give you some tools to help you in your writing journey! Good luck with your creative writing pieces and marvel at the results after a long ride. That is your masterpiece right there in front of you and you should be proud of yourself for all that you have achieved !

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Ricky’s Poem in Remembrance of 9/11

In August 2001, Ricky Dale and his daughter Kim, visited The World Trade Centre (otherwise known as the Twin Towers). This visit would be just prior to the attacks, and tragedies that occurred just several weeks later. Ricky Dale, like many others who watched the news that terrible day, were stricken with shock at the horrors of what had happened, and hearts and sympathies went out to the victims of these tragedies.

It has been 21 years since the tragedies of 9/11 occurred, and years on, we will remember the victims and think about their families during this time.

After hearing of the news when he arrived back in the UK, Ricky wrote a poem in remembrance of the victims.

During the September 11 attacks of 2001. 2,997 victims were murdered. The immediate deaths included 265 on the four planes and 125 at the Pentagon.

Who would have known that death’s shadow was stalking?

Weeping willows crying silent,

Pines that cluster deep secluded

Oaks and ash like towering churches,

Flog the innocent with birches

Hudson mists creep up and chill

Throughout the night of burning embers

Unknown arms reach unknown souls

Beyond the fear of wild September

Nesting deep within the copses

Praying to the wind in whispers

Suspended, floating in confusion

Drifting dead in dreamed illusion

Fantasy, emotions frozen

Bequeaths a hidden sanctuary

Resentments harbour deep within

Running into oblivion

Fasting brief in pain that spreads

Waking torment from our beds

Laughing as clowns – gritting defiance

Crying as infants – stepping like giants

We will remember you – we promise

Loves memory is evergreen

The beginning of the end is over

And it never deflected the American Dream

Ricky and his daughter Kim at the Top of the World Trade Centre

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Home Decor – Bookshelf Edition 📚

Something a little different for this weeks blog. There are so many different aspects revolving books and reading, but often, the home we make for our books goes overlooked. I have complied a collection of photos, which might help inspire you to reflect and adapt your home interior, boik storage, from weird and wonderful, to formal and organised. There’s such a variety to think about!

Starting off with this aesthetically pleasing, colour arranged bookshelf. Though it may take some time to arrange, the result is a perfect, flawless looking array of stories, all colours of the rainbow. Perks of this type of arrangement is that, with all colours of the rainbow, it could fit any theme, or style of room, bringing character and vibrancy in a simple, yet effective way. However, that being said, this order of arrangement would also depend on what kind of books you own. It could prove quite difficult to bring this kind of colour and vibrancy if most of the books that you own have a darker colour scheme to their covers. It might be appropriate in this scenario, to colour code the shades that you own, from light to dark, which would still make for an aesthetic, distinguished and organised finish.

Next, we have this, rather abstract looking bookshelf. This would definitely be the kind of bookshelf you might be attracted to if you have a unique sense of style when it comes to home decor. This shelf seems to stand out as somewhat perfectly imperfect, differing to the common, orderly, and symmetrical shelf designs sold in store. Perhaps that is what makes it so unique and interesting, the fact that it mirrors the ideal that not everything has to be perfect within the home, and a touch of asymmetry can bring a different “look” to the home. This shelf also seems like it could be created as a DIY project, something in which you can put together yourself and then marvel at your handiwork!

This circular storage unit is certainly unique, with designs and structures like this used in a lot of libraries. The best thing is, it doubles as a place to lay down. A few pillows and a blanket and you could create the perfect, cosy reading space, with a huge amount of space to store a variety of books. This deigns seems as though it would fare well for those who are avid readers, or perhaps those who have children, allowing for a quiet area to read peacefully, in the corner of a shared bedroom perhaps or in the living room!

Ah yes, a bookshelf for nature lovers. A beautiful tree shaped shelf makes for a sweet little place to keep books. This would be ideal for those starting out little book collections, with a branch for each collection. Perhaps, it could be also sorted by genre, with each branch labeled with a particular genre, so you can pick out a book based on what genre you’d like to read that day ! Not only is it convenient and simplistic, this shelf would look lovely in the living room, perhaps next to the dining table or in the corner of the room, to make it feel more homely, and allow guests to pick out books that they’re attracted to !

And finally, a nice, basic unit. Perfect for books as well as little ornaments. This unit seems to be mainly useful for aesthetics and could work as a great storage area for a small collection of books, perhaps for someone who is more of a casual reader, and doesn’t need a huge spacious area. Due to its small size, this unit won’t take up too much of a room so would seemingly be a nice little touch to a smaller front room, or perhaps a student dorm or studio flat!

And there you have it! 4 little inspirational storage units for you to ponder ! Changing furniture and organising the home can be very therapeutic for many, so go out and have some fun online shopping! Or even perhaps, try a DIY, you might be impressed by the outcome of your handiwork! What will your reading space look like?

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How can we define Art?

Art comes in many different forms. From complex oil paintings, taking years to complete, to poetry, to music, love letters and imaginative pieces, the definition of art, is extremely broad.

The interesting thing about art, is that it can be experienced and appreciated on so many different ways. One may gaze and the beauty of the artwork of Leonardo Da Vinci or Van Gough, and interpret it in a specific way, while as the next person may conclude an entirely different meaning. There is something incredibly beautiful about the idea that we, as humans have been given the gift of artwork – being able to put pen to paper, painting to parchment and create a masterpiece.

Writing is a particular aspect of art in which is vastly appreciated and comes under such a variety of topics, backgrounds, styles and audiences. The artistry of writing spans through an ocean of A-Z, genre to genre, to abstract books. The amazing thing is, something new is being created each and every day. While you and I sit here in this very moment, no matter where you are in the world, someone is creating their very own literary masterpiece. A fascinating example of this, is J.K.Rowling, and her creation of the infamous, Harry Potter Books. An ordinary woman, sat writing her first book, with no clue that her writing would be the next global franchise, extending to movies, theme parks and merchandise.

The thing is, the significance of art and the impact that it has on our lives is often severely underplayed. Without the arts, how would we ever appreciate the beauty that lies at our fingertips, or become inspired by someone else’s creation? Theatres, libraries, galleries, all give us the ability to showcase our greatest achievements and birth the next generation of artistry.

The definition of art, and popular styles of art change as often as the tides, and it is intriguing to admire the changes from era to era, from the Tudor era, in which large scale oil paintings were the central focus in artistry, to the 21st century, in which abstract art is now favoured most notably amongst the younger generation. It would seem modern day artists, are attempting to add a new spin to art, making something that is not clearly distinguish upon simply looking at it – which forces the viewer to engage in deep thought as to the meaning behind what the art is about and the feelings it invokes. This again, alludes to the idea that art can be absolutely anything that you wish it to be. It changes form, and meaning like some kind of abstract shape.

A piece of art that has gained a particular interest in the younger generations of this era, is a piece of art named “I can’t help myself” – created by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu. Placed behind clear acrylic walls, their robot has one specific duty, to contain a viscous, deep-red liquid within a predetermined area. When the sensors detect that the fluid has strayed too far, the arm frenetically shovels it back into place, leaving smudges on the ground and splashes on the surrounding walls. The physical elements of the art itself, are fairly simple. The robot must continue to scoop the oil back into its tank in order to keep moving, else it cannot continue to work.

According to Dazed: “

It goes without saying that there are plenty of theories about what Can’t Help Myself is actually about in the comment section. “Continuously cleaning up the pieces of yourself as you endlessly fall apart,” writes one user, hinting at an underlying commentary on mental health. “Alone, while everyone watches you and uses you for entertainment.”

“No piece of art has ever emotionally affected me the way this robot arm piece has,” reads another interpretation. “It’s programmed to try to contain the hydraulic fluid that’s constantly leaking out and required to keep itself running… if too much escapes, it will die so it’s desperately trying to pull it back to continue to fight for another day.”

Such simple concepts can invoke such deep feelings within each and every one of us, with most viewers seeming to relate to this little robot in one way or another, attaching it to personal struggles in life that everyone faces. In this way, this is an example of art that can be universally understood on a deeper level, without being overly complicated.

However, abstract art has also been viewed as somewhat controversial, with the definition of art being toyed with to for the financial interests of an uninterested arrist, who potentially could lead someone into thinking there was a deeper meaning behind art that simply, had no meaning at all, in a quick fire way to earn some cash. Though this is a topic that truly could be debated for hours

Most notably, splatter art, gained the attention of many critics, failing to gain and understanding of some deeper meaning and rather simply viewing the art as it appears on the surface – splattered paint on a canvas.

Overall, the answer to the question of how art is defined, is an impossible proposition, as like many things, such a beauty, everyone experiences it differently, and this is the most truly beautiful thing about it. Someone who has a passion for reading also will have their own preferences, from genre, to characters, to writing style, and all of the interesting ways in which a book can be written. Though it can be noticed that in the most famous novels, most are written in a fantasty world, and so this may be one element in which can be cherry picked as something that most readers are drawn towards. This, however cannot account for the experiences of all and again, all eludes to the fact that the population of humans, is such a wonderfully diverse one.

And with that, what is art to you?

Can’t help myself

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Oh How Much I Love You

Gigliola’s rendition of “Dio Come Ti Amo” became even more poignant to me when later translated into English.

During January 1966, my then wife – who was a sicilian lady – coaxed me into a trip to the Italian Song Festival, (Festival Di Sanremo). Her close friend Gigliola Cinquetti was due to perform there.

Remember? Why must I remember? 

Why can’t I simply close my eyes and go to sleep and make her disappear? 

Why must I always hear:

“Dio come ti amo” ?

I still can hear her say

“Oh, God, how much I love you!”

Yet I walked away

The wind began to blow – and all the leaves went flying.

She stood there in the night – and tried to keep from crying.

What could I have told her?

What could I say or do?

When love has lost its meaning;

It’s over, it’s through.

And so I hurried on for someone new was waiting

To hold her in my arms in endless celebrating

But that was long ago and many loves had I

But only one was real and I let that slip by

Dio come ti amo

Those were the words she said

“Oh, God, how much I love you”

It runs through my head

I know its much too late but

I go right on praying

To have her back again so

She could hear me saying:

Dio, come ti amo –

God, how much I love you !

The poetry of composer, singer and actor:

Domenico Modugno